British and American English, A different language

The differences between American English and British English are more than most people think. It would be so much easier if the Americans called the language they speak and write American, rather than English as it is not that similar.

Many words are the same, but they can have different meanings or be used with different grammatical constructions.

Take a couple that are well known such as ‘pants’ – is this underwear or a covering for your legs?

In Britain the former, in parts of America the latter, but in other parts it is the same as in UK. As both are items of clothing it can be confusing and embarrassing to get this wrong.

Purse and wallet are another couple. In Britain a purse is what a lady carries her money in, (paper and coins), while a man generally keeps it in a wallet, (often only paper). In America a purse is a bag and a wallet is a purse.

There are many more, but these give you an idea of how confusing it can be.

Then there is the spelling. Americans prefer simpler versions of words, such as ‘color’, ‘neighbor’ and ‘favor’ as well as inverting the final letters in words like ‘meter’ and ‘center’. To ‘summarize’ (with a z) there are many differences.

Now take grammar; for a Brit the past participle of get is got, but for an American it is gotten, the past of ‘fit’ isn’t ‘fitted’ in USA, but rather ’fit’ and they don’t ‘have a shower’, they ‘take a shower’.

Collective nouns, transitive verbs, auxiliary verbs, phrasal verbs and many more grammatical points vary from one continent to another.

If you are on the ground floor of a building in Britain, you are on the first floor in America; likewise if you are on the first floor in UK you are on the second in USA. There are no chemists or queues in America, but you can get in ‘line’ for the ‘drugstore’.

Really, the list is endless, that is why Americans should call what they use American, not English.

That said, whatever you want to call it, we at Singapore Transcription understand, speak and write both. So whether your target reader is American or British, we can provide accurate transcripts in both these languages to suit your clients.